Hearts defender Callum Paterson has been handed a surprise call-up to the Scotland senior squad for matches against the Republic of Ireland and England.
The 20-year-old was named in the Scotland Under-21 squad but now finds himself promoted with doubts surrounding the fitness of right-back Phil Bardsley.
Paterson has yet to be capped at senior international level and his inclusion follows Rangers’ Lewis MacLeod’s call up by national coach Gordon Strachan last week. Many observers questioned the decision to include MacLeod but Strachan has again turned to a young player in Scotland’s second tier in Paterson.
The Hearts defender is currently in the middle of a two-game suspension at club level and is free to join up with the Scotland squad to prepare for Friday’s vital European Championship qualifier against the Republic of Ireland.
Bardsley only lasted ten minutes of Stoke City’s win over Tottenham Hotspur yesterday and had to be substituted with a groin injury. He is now expected to withdraw from the Scotland squad after Paterson’s call-up. Injury has already denied Strachan the services of first-choice right-back Alan Hutton. Steven Whittaker is now likely to deputise, with Paterson there to provide cover.